Tottenham will look to keep hold of fourth place when they embark on a tricky trip to Aston Villa, with Antonio Conte aiming for a fourth victory in a row.

Aston Villa’s primary problem this season under ex-boss Dean Smith and now Steven Gerrard has been consistency. They have certainly improved since the latter’s arrival, but the Midlands club have been unable to stitch together a sustained run of positive results. And the former Rangers boss will need big results under his belt to prove his critics wrong.

Villa find themselves searching for a turnaround of fortunes after losing their last three Premier League games. West Ham United, Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers managed to beat Gerrard’s charges in recent weeks, and now Tottenham pose a different challenge altogether.

Villa seem destined for a mid-table finish, but Gerrard would like to complete the season in the top half. They are currently a point behind Crystal Palace and Leicester City. That goal is achievable, although they still have to face Manchester City and Liverpool before the season ends.

Tottenham, have been flying in the last few weeks and have carried their momentum forward after the international break. Antonio Conte’s men took the initiative in the top-four race by thumping Newcastle United 5-1 and climbing above Arsenal on goal difference.

Fortunately for them, Arsenal lost their fixture to Crystal Palace last Monday, keeping Spurs in fourth. The next objective is to keep hold of the position until the end of the season, with quite a few challenges ahead. Aston Villa are one such team that have been unpredictable and may cause problems for Conte’s men.

The Italian tactician will be aiming to collect maximum points until the challenging fixtures against Leicester City, Liverpool and Arsenal arrive. A top-four finish is possible if Spurs keep their momentum going, although the late-season run-in has often proved problematic for the north London side.

Team News & Tactics

Aston Villa

Steven Gerrard hinted at making changes following the loss to Wolves. Most of it could be on the attacking side of the lineup, although there are a few question marks in the backline. Tyrone Mings had a knock from the last game, although the manager confirmed the defender has trained and might be fit to start.

The Aston Villa boss also gave updates on Emiliano Buendia, suggesting the Argentine is fit to start against Tottenham after being on the bench against Wolves. However, if Gerrard decides to bring Danny Ings back into the team, Buendia’s selection could be doubtful.

Gerrard may not axe Ollie Watkins or Philippe Coutinho from the attacking setup. He may make one change in central midfield, with Douglas Luiz likely to come in for Morgan Sanson.

Lucas Digne may remain out of the team, although there could be a place on the bench for long-term absentee Marvelous Nakamba, who gained valuable minutes playing for the Under-23s.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Coutinho; Ings, Watkins

Tottenham

Japhet Tanganga and Oliver Skipp are the only confirmed absentees for the trip to Aston Villa, with the former ruled out for the remainder of the campaign. Left-sided duo Sergio Reguilon and Ryan Sessegnon is back in contention, boosting Antonio Conte’s options.

Reguilon looks likely to come back in the side, although Conte may be wary of using him so soon. Matt Doherty was superb in the left wing-back role against Newcastle and could continue there. In that case, Emerson Royal should remain on the right flank.

It certainly looks like Conte may name an unchanged lineup that beat Newcastle. Cristian Romero, Eric Dier and Ben Davies could keep their places in central defence. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur could continue their impressive partnership in midfield.

Dejan Kulusevski continues to improve in the front three, keeping Lucas Moura on the bench since joining in January. Son Heung-min and Harry Kane should complete the attacking trident.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Lloris; Romero, Dier, Davies; Emerson, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Doherty; Kulusevski, Kane, Son

Key Stats

  • Aston Villa have lost their last three games in the Premier League.
  • Aston Villa lost the last three games with a one-goal margin.
  • Tottenham have won their last seven away matches against Aston Villa in all competitions.
  • Tottenham have scored at least two goals in their last six matches in the Premier League.
  • Tottenham have won five of their last six matches in the Premier League.

Player to Watch

Harry Kane

Embed from Getty Images

Kane deservedly takes much of the credit for Tottenham’s improved performances in the last few weeks, as the England captain has found his rhythm in the league. Many have come to call this Spurs attack one-dimensional, but their talisman has been effective alongside Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-min.

Kane tends to stitch this attack together and is taking the team in the direction of achieving a top-four finish. If Tottenham are to play Champions League football next season, the superstar striker will have to continue his good run when they face Villa away from home.

Prediction

Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham

Tottenham have scored at least two goals in their last six games in the Premier League, which shows how ruthless they have become in the attack. Their rampant showing against a well-drilled Newcastle United side indicates what could transpire at Villa Park.

Aston Villa have struggled in the last few weeks, and the team is not closer to finding momentum. They have been suspect in defence, and this is something Spurs will look to exploit and bag a victory.

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